To You & Your Students' Good Health
Compliments of the CMS Committee on Musicians’ Health committee page
The Musicians’ Health Committee, comprised of medical professionals and music faculty, all strong advocates for musicians’ health, is happy to bring you a Q & A column for this month’s CMS Newsletter. If you like this idea, please send us your musicians’ health-related questions which we will direct to our committee members, or other professionals with whom we have contact, to be answered in future newsletters. Gail Berenson and Linda Cockey, Committee Co-Chairs.
Q: “Juries and Final Exams are Approaching: How Do I Help My Students with End-of-the-Semester Stress?” Answered by Linda Cockey, Vanessa Cornett, Lois Svard. Linda Cockey is Professor and Director of Keyboard Studies at Salisbury University in Maryland. She serves on many national committees on musicians’ health and wellness and it the chair of the editorial board for MTNA’s e-Journal. Vanessa Cornett is the Director of Keyboard Studies and Associate Professor of Piano and Piano Pedagogy at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis—St. Paul. She is author of the book The Mindful Musician: Mental Skills for Peak Performance. Lois Svard, DMA, Professor of Music Emerita, Bucknell University. Lois Svard is Professor of Music Emerita at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. She is the author of the blog The Musician’s Brain about music, the brain, and learning, https://www.themusiciansbrain.com/?page_id=21
A: “This is the time of year when students are already stressed as many are preparing for juries and/or recitals.” Consider including:
“Safe stress” playing environments to try out repertoire – see Dr. Noa Kageyama on Effective Practice
Quick recording segments as “trial runs” – see Mishra/B. Fast iPractice: Technology in the 21st Century Music Practice Room (2019)
Goal setting or planning worksheets or journals to help manage time and tasks effectively – see Gerald Klickstein’s 321 Goals
Basic stress management techniques (breathing, relaxation, stretching, guided mindfulness activities, imagery) practiced regularly during lessons, ensemble rehearsals, or performance classes –see Don’t Sweat It: Your Guide to Managing Stress and Vanessa Cornett’s book on The Mindful Musician: Mental Skills for Peak Performance (2019)
Advocate the need for adequate sleep—check out Blog post by Lois Svardon Sleep, Stress and Performance
Encourage healthy, positive habits of thought, to minimize the self-critical “inner judges” – check out Dr. Julie Nagel’s Blog Thinking about Thinking
Encourage healthy eating habits and proper hydration—check out Choose My Plate
Finally, remember that it is normal to experience stress and anxiety related to exams, juries, recitals—anything in which a performance will be evaluated by an expert. Think of these as learning experiences that will make the next performance better.